Blockchain technology offers a new way to make and manage contracts. Over 80% of business leaders think blockchain usage will soon be commonplace. This technology lets us share contracts safely, and since records can’t be changed, there’s less risk of fraud. Smart contracts even handle execution automatically.
In fact, an IBM study found that a blockchain can reduce contract settlement times from months to a matter of days by slashing paperwork and manual tasks.
What is a blockchain, and how does it work?
A blockchain provides a decentralized infrastructure for recording transactions that address vulnerabilities in traditional systems. For example, suppose you log into your bank account to transfer money to a relative. This seems straightforward enough. However, such digital financial transactions can be altered without your consent.
It was developed to recognize flaws in centralized systems to enable more secure, transparent transfers. It works by organizing transaction data into connected “blocks” stored across many computers in a network. Each networked computer verifies and copies this ever-growing chain of blocks. Tampering any block would cause mismatches with all copies stored across the decentralized network.
This structure ensures transparency in real-time. Network computers instantly detect if the data is changed in any way. Unlike centralized banks that could secretly manipulate accounts, blockchain’s mass distribution makes transactions far more resistant to unauthorized alterations. Its decentralized nature removes centralized points of failure.
How does it benefit contract management?
Contracts involve multiple parties that need to work together. A blockchain is a digital database that lets many parties access and update information, but no one fully controls it. This helps build trust and can improve things like:
- Tracking changes: Changes to contracts are “stamped” into the blockchain so nothing can be secretly edited later. Everyone knows the latest, valid version.
- Sharing data: All parties can view and add information to the blockchain contract record. But previous entries can’t be erased without approval.
- Speeding up workflows: Steps like approving contracts for signing can happen faster by automating parts of the process with smart contracts.
- Staying compliant: Legal terms, including those related to employees like employment contracts, can be meticulously recorded on a blockchain to enhance precision and reduce the likelihood of missing crucial dates.
How is it being used in contract management?
When it comes to managing contracts, blockchain technology has been a game-changer. This innovation drives improvements in the whole process, from contract creation to oversight and dispute resolution.
Creating and executing contracts: Smart contracts let parties design agreements with built-in automation. Data triggers automatic payments, transfers property, or provides services as contract terms are met. This removes the need for middlemen. Parties can also digitally sign to execute quickly.
Tracking and managing contract performance: Logs all contract activity transparently so everyone can monitor progress. Automated reports on metrics like delivery timelines, usage levels, and quality scores simplify oversight. Standardized performance data allows easier benchmarking.
Resolving contract disputes: Complete archives of contract timelines and deliverables to reduce disputes. A blockchain system can also enable the creation of automatic “dispute resolution frameworks” and connect users to arbitration services with smart contracts, automating the enforcement of a contractual dispute.
Smart contracts allow companies to program complex multi-party agreements with automated contingencies that execute once milestone conditions are verifiably met. This eliminates lengthy manual approvals and amendment processes.
Parties can self-inspect progress on the shared ledger. Terms and payments flow instantly based on objective data inputs, not partisan negotiations. The benefits of long-term partnerships are immense, with fewer disputes, quicker adaptations to market changes, and fewer expensive middlemen.
However, adopting this emerging technology poses upfront challenges around integration, regulation, and stakeholder buy-in. But the trajectory is aligned with enabling more agile, resilient contractual infrastructure across industries.